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Tipu Ake ki te Ora

Growing the future - An organic
leadership model for innovative
organisations and communities



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What is this Tipu Ake thing about and how did it arise?

The Tipu Ake team is a group of volunteers from the school and community of Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi*, who with help from staff volunteers and student project teams from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and enthusiastic supporters from New Zealand and around the world, have put together and share a new organic leadership model.


Te Whaiti School - deep in the Whirinaki Rainforest Forest
(* Click here for a map to see where this is in NZ - return from our Kaitiakitanga site using your back button)

Corrie Cook from AUT on taking a group of Indonesian Managers on a weekend marae stay at Te Whaiti in 1999, discovers that school board members Earl Rewi, Chris Eketone and the community have a story or two to tell.

. .

Peter Goldsbury (an ex pupil of the school) is reminded by Chris Eketone, Andy Kohiti and Rusty Rangi that this community has a richness to share, and after many discussions with community people, a leadership model encapsulating their way of thinking begins to emerge. The give it the name Tipu Ake ki te Ora - growing from within ever upwards towards wellness

After sitting their final exams in 2001, AUT Journalism graduate Ruth Wynyard and PR graduate Karen Laugesen, with David Somerfield a young photographer, volunteered to help launch the Tipu Ake Lifecycle on the marae at Te Whaiti (one hour inland from Rotorua). It is inspired by their school’s success. The stories and images they captured have been widely published. They really helped start something different! See the video Clip of the school opening

Karen and Ruth interview School Principal Genevieve Doherty.

In 2002, AUT student teams made another major contribution to the project. Multimedia graduate Matt Roland produce the intitial website then hosted by AUT.

The whole team on the AUT Software Project Management course (Sarah Bennet, David Bishop, Sam Fraser, Firas Hurmes, Jonathon Lee, Darshan Scetty, Nama Shokri, Amyn Tharani, Trevena Young, Henry Yu) designed the new custom website, then Andrew Davies and Leanne Bjargesen prototyped it as their final year project under supervisor Tony Clear.

Vanessa Evetts, Te Rahui August, John Cochrane and Joseph McAlpine (with help from cameraman Boswell Haiosi and photographer David Somerfield) under AUT multimedia tutor Peter Mansfield produced an interactive DVD and captured some great images. (pictured)

See their video interviews of School personnel. ( 29 Mb .wmv)

Robyn Johnston and Cherie Bray-Taylor ran a Public Relations project to launch Tipu Ake nationally a project done as part of Joseph Peart's Public Relations course.

In Dec 03 Truing Li an AUT IT Student voluntreer to help us by prototyping drop down menus and templates for the Forest Website.

In Jan 2004, AUT Multimedia tutor Ross Brannigan found 2003 graduates Saurav Pukayastha and Theresa Liu who volunteered with Madeleine Mauger ( Sustainability UK) and Maraea Davies ( South Seas Film and TV School) to form a team with pupils from Te Whaiti school to capture interviews at Raglan for a Tipu Ake / Kaitiakitanga documentary)

In Semester 1 2004, AUT IT students Yvonne Chen, Alvin Naidu, Dale Siljeur, Tim Mansell under tutor Rory Foggerty got our new site operational complete with the first stage of the organisational self assessment benchmarking tool.

In Semester 1 2005 AUT IT Diploma students Hong Hai Pham, Feng Guo and Richard Bote under Tutor Doug McKenzie did some great work rationalising and integrating the templates, menus and navigation for the Tipu Ake and other Whirinaki sites ( www.whirinaki.org.nz)

Peter Goldsbury who at the time ran Project Management Workshops at AUT, works with many of New Zealand's most innovative organisations. He recognised that the radical way they turned round their failing school against all the odds could be an inspiration for many other organisations and communities. For him the resultant active research project to help them capture the secrets of their success in a form that could be shared has been a roller coaster learning journey. He reflects:

“Most observers are pretty skeptical at first – How could a tiny school and a largely unemployed Maori community deep in the Urewera bush ever offer anything that international academic institutions and sophisticated organisations in today’s fast paced cities and global economy don’t already know?” …..

“Its only after you go there, have the elders explain the dynamics and interconnectedness of the natural world they live in, talk with them and see what their children are achieving, that you can really believe that their organic model of leadership, teamwork and organisations could maybe work for you too.

The AUT volunteers and student teams found the courage to do that and by contributing their energy and unique skills have helped incubate and share Tipu Ake; growing themselves and their university in the process.”

The children and people of the place Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi are the kaitiaki who will guard the Tipu Ake Lifecycle for all time. They share it with you for the benefit of all the world’s future childrens. Tipu Ake ki te Ora - the full name they gave to the model means “Growing from within ever upwards towards wellbeing”. They hope you find the courage to do this too. Visit our new site www.tipuake.org.nz

A close game of marbles


We thank Andree Mathieu a sustainability writer from Quebec who was inspired to translate the Tipu Ake model into French, then to visit us to find out more about it and write about the Maori concept of Kaitiakitanga (guardianship of our world).


We now have Jussi Luukonen, a Multimedia designer from Finland offering to translate Tipu Ake into Finnish. Richard Payne a courseware designer in Los Angeles is putting together a Tipu Ake Leadership module for use by US and other Universities.

Our volunteer team network is quickly growing as other people from all around the world pick up and start applying Tipu Ake. We welcome them to retreats in Te Whaiti. We have run introductory workshops and seminars in many locations.

In Semester 1 2006 we had another group of IT students at AUT doing more work on our Whirinaki websites. They were Lei Quin, Teraarua Schmidt, Bo Su and Zhan Yong from Graham Bidois' class. They were supported by AUT multimmedia design student Jacqui Foo who gave them guidance in designing the look and feel of the site. Now all the Whirinaki Rainforest Community Web Portal sites www.whirinaki.org.nz look integrated and compatible thanks to them.

In Semester 2 2006 another IT student team at AUT, Jay Sing, Vincent and Clariza Rodriguez are working on an integrated calendar that will keep track of all the events that are going on in the community and appropriate external ones too. They will also be integrating the users registration system and membership Database / opt-in newsletter facility for the Tipu Ake site.

In Semester 1 2007 another IT student team at AUT, including Christopher Milroy, Meeraj Shah, Avan Mohammad, Vandana Taneja and Irin Buranayotkul build the Whirinaki Forest wall calendar, the Tipu ake mail lists and update pages within the existing websites.

We are not a commercial or legal organisation. Instead we rely on our networks to establish win-win partnerships where people offer their time and other resources to help us all grow. We do not even have a bank account - any koha (income that we get in return for the benefits of using of Tipu Ake) goes to a dedicated trust account at our school (Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi) to provide scholarships and other special learning experiences for our children, teachers and the community.




1. NEW "Lifelong Learning - Nature's Way" - Tipu Ake as a learning model
2. UPDATE " New Tools For Growing Living Organisations and Communities" Radical tools for program management in a world of complexity and inter-dependence - builds on our paper at PMI Global Forum, Anaheim. Nov 2004
UPDATE Downloadable Tipu Ake Model now includes "The Leadership Tripod" and Mycorrhyzal Fungi Networks - Partnerships below the ground level.
4. PODCASTS Listen to Stranova and Living Systems Thinking interviews - Blog
5. VIDEO: Visit Downloadable Video Libary, interviews, stories, apply Tipu Ake
6. Thanks to those who participated in workshops "Tools for Growing Living Organisations" run in New York, London, Mid Wales UK, Finland and San Francisco during August 2005 click here for report

Helping New Zealanders and the world grow from within
Please forward this page to others in your networks, or link from your site to ours.

(c) 2001 onwards Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi. All intellectual property protected under the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Adopted by General Assembly 13 Sept 2007) - details www.tewhaiti-nui-a-toi.maori.nz
The Tipu Ake Team thanks AUT for helping incubate this model and in particular the many student teams, staff and other local and international volunteers that have helped it germinate in many places around the world.
Click for details